unfit: the struggle of feeling incapable and less than.

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This year I will be leading a freshman small group through the campus ministry I am involved in. I am excited and expectant. But, if we are being honest, a few short weeks ago, I was far from enthusiastic about this seemingly hopeless challenge.
you see, I am a perfectionist. I’ll admit it, all day long. I devote my time and energy to fixing, to refining, to adjusting. because I can’t sleep at night if something isn’t done well. So when I was told that I would be serving as a small group leader this year, I panicked. How could I, the girl who struggles with fear of imperfection, serve and lead a group of freshman who are just trying to figure it all out? I am far from an expert when it comes to life. I can barely keep my own life in check.
only thing to eat is poptarts? it’s fine. 
did I wear those jeans the past two days? probably, but that’s alright. 
arrive to class to discover I forgot to complete the homework. take a couple deep breaths and it’ll be okay. 
my point is, I am still trying to figure this whole college thing out. so, how can I lead a group of freshman through this exciting, but sometimes terrifying season of life? how I am supposed to give them advice about things I haven’t experienced?
but I have several sweet friends who lovingly pointed out to me that I was looking at it all wrong. leading a small group isn’t about capability. it isn’t even about feeling “ready”. it is about being willing.

it isn’t my job to have all the answers. it isn’t my responsibility to have it all together.

my job is to pray for these students. to love them well. to send them encouraging texts on test day. my one job is to point this group of students back to Jesus. that’s it.
these days, I am trying to be real. transparent with my friends and with my family. real with myself. and I am attempting to be genuine with God. so I am going to be real with you for a second.
I struggle with feeling less than — unworthy, if you will.
when I got the email telling me that I would be a small group leader, I freaked out a). because I know it’s not something that can be done perfectly and b). because I have a fear of not being able to relate to people — on a everyday level, but also on a spiritual level.

my testimony is simple.

I grew up in the church. I was raised by two loving parents, in a home dripping with grace and truth. I experienced first hand what it looks like to be loved by my father in heaven. I asked Jesus to be keeper of my heart at a young age and have been protected from many things this life likes to throw at us. I am so grateful for that.
really.
but, I have always wondered why I didn’t get to experience this crazy moment where God totally turned my world upside down. why can’t I pinpoint a moment in my walk with the Lord where I felt completely changed?

many of my friends have powerful testimonies that leave the entire room in tears. mine is a little different. It’s ordinary — mundane.

but this week, I have discovered that God uses the ordinary too. one of my peers encouraged me this week with this truth-filled passage (stick with me, it’s long):
“My 12 year old daughter dissolved into floods of tears at the kitchen bench not so long ago after being at an incredible conference. She’d heard some of the greatest testimonies of God’s intervention into the lives of her “Heroes” in the faith. Incredible preachers who took to the platform to tell of how God had found them in their bondage and pain, in the drug addiction, their hopelessness, the alcohol stupors, sexual abuse, their reckless lifestyles as hit men and in gangs, as nightclub owners and backsliders and how he’d “taken their mess and made it into a message”.
I wasn’t sure what prompted the tears until she innocently asked if it would be possible for God to use her too. Her gentle heart towards his, her sweet compliant spirit, her pure hearted pursuit. Or whether it was necessary for her to go astray so she’d have something to testify too.
I know it may seem like a funny question, but surrounded by people who tell extreme salvation stories of all that God has saved them from maybe it was a reasonable question
Which made me think.

we are all saved

Saved for relationship with God. The end result is the same. And maybe so too is the beginning
I gave my heart to Jesus when I was 4 – I never got drunk, never had sex before I was married, never smoked or did drugs, never was the victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse… I am just like my daughter. I had an innate sense of God with me from a young age and that awareness constantly governed my choices and decisions as a teenager. I used to wish for the dramatic testimony and would ponder in my heart the verse that says “he who’s been forgiven much loves much”. I wanted to love God the most.
As I’ve grown up. I have realized with hindsight that although I didn’t get saved out of those issues I was most definitely saved from them… Gods faithfulness through the generations spared me from the heartache and pain of living separated from God, from abusing my body and from meaninglessness. Saved from things that I watched my friends endure. We don’t get to choose the families we are born into and therefore often don’t choose how the grace of God gets applied to our lives and the situations we find ourselves in but I most definitely needed the same grace that my friends did. I just saw it at work to spare and save me from the harshness of life. It was more like boundary fences that stopped me plummeting over a cliff rather than the net at the bottom to break my fall. Psalm 145:4 says “one generation declares your work to the next” and providing we tell the story well, it should be possible to spare each other from making the same mistakes over and over. The generations can get stronger and more beautiful as they live out purity and surrender from young ages.
I think of Mary. As a young girl God saw her heart towards his and marked her to carry his son. She found favour with God because of her purity. Paul exhorted Timothy — don’t let people look down on you because if your youth but let your life be an example in faith, love and purity (1 Tim 4:12) God chose Samuel as a young boy in the service of God and marked him as a prophet to a nation.
So to a little girl at a kitchen sink my response is “no”. You don’t have to sin to allow grace to abound — it already does and your story of encountering God is just as rich and necessary as anyone else’s. God found you, saved you and needs your sweet story to accompany all the other ones. He’s a master creative. No two stories of salvation are alike. Each are unique in their own right and point to his infinite ability to restore everything to himself.”
Cassandra Langton
my story isn’t radical — it isn’t the kind that keeps you at the edge of your seat. but the ending is the same as my friend who was sexual assaulted in high school. the ending is no different than my peer who struggled with alcohol.

we were all saved by the same Savior. we are all in need of grace (a whole bunch of it!!).

that is how I can relate to my group of freshman. the common ground will be, and is, always Jesus. today, I’m not looking at leading a small group as a hopeless challenge. I am viewing it as an opportunity.
if you could, will you pray for me as I begin this new season of life?

 

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